When Graham met Kim

ON 15th On February 1987, Graham Greene, one of the most acclaimed English novelists of the 20th century, attended a star-studded peace conference in Moscow (glasnost, remember?). This event, and a historic meeting between the novelist and a famous spy is the subject of a new play, A Splinter of Ice, being staged by Yeovil’s Swan Theatre company to 23rd March.

In Moscow, Greene took the opportunity to visit his old friend Kim Philby – the double agent who, in 1963, was revealed to be the ‘third man’ in the infamous Cambridge Five spy ring (Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess were one and two, with Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross coming in at four and five.)

By the late 1980s, Greene, himself a former MI6 agent, had forged a massively successful career largely by fictionalising espionage-related subjects, while Philby had spent some 35 years living in exile in Moscow following the exposure of his own real-life adventures in that world.

Do you wish you could have bugged the room to listen in on their reunion? Ben Brown’s new play A Splinter of Ice offers the closest we’ll ever get to that, by imagining the conversation that took place.

In this Swan Theatre production, Patrick Knox plays Graham Green, Robert Brydges is Philby and Tanya Ogden is Rufa.

And that title? Greene famously said that there had to be a “splinter of ice in the heart of a writer”.

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